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   Re: [xml-dev] Principles of XML design

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ERH wrote

> Does this same SGML spec place any other requirements on SGML and by
> extension XML processors? In particular does it mandate anything that an
> SGML processor is expected to return to client applications? Do any of
> the SGML gurus on the list happen to know that?

The SGML spec is formally interested neither in generators nor receivers.

It just says that when you see an X in a document in a certain context,
that it is a Y: how to parse a document. A validator only needs to return
boolean true or false to its application at an extreme. Nontheless, the
fundamental "infoset" equation in ISO 8879 is  Text = Data + Markup.  That
is the
big divide: for example, significant whitespace is data, insignificant
whitespace is markup. In a sense, markup is only ordered because
the underlying data is ordered.

Are PIs and comments after the root element closes ordered or unordered?
ISO 8879 doesn't say, IIRC. It is up to the community to figure out what
their needs are, and if a concensus or controversy arises, deal with it
and get the standard improved.

Couple this, though, with the unremarkable committee assumptions that
people are not mad, that people use markup languages to do markup, that
newbies will latch onto old-timers, that people will mobilize and
co-ordinate on important issues and get
clarifications/enhancements/simplifications/extra layers/profiles, etc.
made as and when they are needed. I.e that standards come from and create
communities. These communities are valuable resources not conspiracies. A
standards committee simply does not need to concern itself with issues
like "What would a Martian make of this standard?" no matter how much this
undoubtedly makes life difficult for to Martians.

I think there is a Catholic versus Protestant cultural issue here, in
analogy: or, at least, "Tradition" versus "Scriptures".  People would love
a standard to be Holy Writ. But in fact most workable standards
come out of some user community and are riddled with simplifying
assumptions that certain questions do not need answering because they
are dumb.  When someone comes from another computing culture, often they
ask dumb questions and are given the unsatisfactory answer "because"

That is not the way people think about standards, but certainly from the
ISO POV a standard is explicitly all about "agreement" not about
"imposition" or "adoption".

Rick Jelliffe


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